Single mother: strategies to lighten her mental load
Making to-do lists for our children also teaches them that in life we do not just do what we like.
More and more mothers are raising their children alone in Quebec. The challenges of single mothers is aimed at these women and aims to help them meet their particular challenges.
Solo moms have their hands full, it's a known fact. The mental load can be difficult for them to carry alone every day. So we spoke with Stéphanie Houle, psychosocial worker, so that she could give us some tips.
As a single parent, we find ourselves having to develop our own strategies to have time for ourselves, and this will not depend on our children or our network, but only on ourselves. These suggestions aim to have positive ways of doing things to apply on a daily basis and in the long term to be able to relieve some of the stress that weighs us down. “My first strategy would be to start with organizing our time by choosing our priorities. We can reduce our hours. Our children don't have to do everything. You can also choose flexible schedule or extracurricular activities that are less expensive and require less transportation, which helps to lighten the mental load,” advises Stéphanie Houle.
Making lists remains an effective trick to unload your head and not forget anything. But we must also be careful that our to-do lists do not increase our mental load instead of simplifying it. “Sometimes the list is so long that we see it as a mountain and it can become difficult to take action. So I prefer lists of what we have done instead of what we still have to do. We can also classify what we have to do in the categories important, not important, urgent, not urgent, to help clarify all the tasks. The idea is to be proud of what you have realistically accomplished in a day.”
She also suggests working on the autonomy of our children. “It is long and difficult to make our children more independent little beings. Of course, it always goes faster to do everything for them. But yet our children are thirsty to learn and participate in family life, and in addition it values them!”, she recalls.
To achieve this, Stéphanie Houle suggests working on the autonomy of our children, one step at a time. “For example, I let him dress himself so that he becomes more skillful quietly. Because when we try to let him do everything at once it adds to our mental load or instead of lightening it and it creates moments of friction.”
You can also use images to facilitate the toddler routine. For the older ones, we can give them lists of tasks to accomplish before they have access to the screens. “It also saves us from having to repeat the same requests over and over again. Casually, once the lunch boxes are unpacked, the homework is done and they have also done a chore to help, my mental load as a single mom lightens enormously.”
In the end, it is in our interest to revisit our personal expectations at all levels, to remove the pressure of the constant ideal of wanting to perform at all costs, and to learn to let go of certain things by offering ourselves the gift of flexibility.
It's a challenge for the single mom to have to carry all the mental load and not have the possibility of transferring part of it to the other parent.